Sunday 29 December 2013

Canterbury, Rome, Daguerre, Baudelaire, Selfies

                                                          All images © Lalo Borja

It seems 2013 has been the year of the "selfie", the ubiquitous visual manifest of these times we live in.
Inevitably I thought of good old Charles Baudelaire, who in 1859 vented his fury at the "idolatrous mob" who saw in the then nascent photographic art the possibility of the representation of nature in all its forms.

This is what the furious critic had to say in his day:

"A revengeful God has given ear to the prayers of this multitude. Daguerre was his Messiah. And now the faithful says to himself: 'Since photography gives us every guarantee of exactitude that we could desire (they really believe that, the mad fools!), then photography and Art are the same thing'...From that moment on our squalid society rushed, Narcissus to a man, to gaze at its trivial image on a scrap of metal. A madness, an extraordinary fanaticism took possession of all these new sun-worshippers. Strange abominations took form...The love of pornography, which is no less rooted in the natural heart of man than the love of himself, was not to let slip so fine an opportunity of self-satisfaction..."
"As the photographic industry was the refuge of every would-be painter, every painter too ill-endowed or too lazy to complete his studies, this universal infatuation bore not only the mark of blindness, an imbecility, but had also the air of a vengeance."

Little did Baudelaire know that many years later Daguerre would seem (erroneously) to have been forgotten, and his own ranting words rang prophetic: that the pixellated immediacy of the instant have become the new ruler; and, that virtually everyone speaks from the balconies of our universal, endless mirrors on the internet.

I, for one, believe traditional photography still has a long way to go in the exploration of visual avenues related to art or life itself, in all its manifestations.

Thursday 26 December 2013

Numbers Four and Five

                                                             All images © Lalo Borja

Saturday 21 December 2013

El Retazo (Pedazo de cualquier cosa, dice el diccionario)

A veces hablando con amigos sobre lo nuestro caigo en cuenta que la imagen puede vivir  desprovista de narrativa.
¿O es al contrario?

Sometimes while speaking with friends about photography I realise that the image alone can live bereft of narrative.
Or is it the other way around?

Wednesday 18 December 2013

The Magic of Paris (Callotypes)

These two takes from Paris, one of the Jardin du Luxembourg and the other the Eiffel Tower from across the river, have been printed from large paper negatives and transformed by light into Callotypes.
They are printed on archival Fibre-based paper 16x12 inches in size. These  are unique pieces.
They are available for interested buyers.

Two Calotypes

These two shots are part of a new series I have embarked upon. They are the resulting products of many months of experimentation. At present I have twenty finished, a painstakingly slow process which includes trial and error and the patient expectation of an image as it slowly comes to life on the paper surface, many times with scars and blemishes, but never any less than beautiful.
The top image was taken in San Sebastián, the Basque Country, in 1988. The lower one, inside the clock at the Musée D'Orsay, Paris, 2007.  

©Lalo Borja 

Sunday 1 December 2013

Self-portrait of a Man Recovering

Being ill is a lonely occupation. Whatever it is that ails you it only pertains to you and no one else. There are of course the expressed feelings of solidarity from people you know. These come in different forms and sizes. It is comforting to hear some say that all will be well, that you will beat whatever it is you need to beat to stay alive, that things will work out fine and not to worry. 
There are others that keep their mouths shut and look at you with a mixture of sympathy and sorrow. I know, I have been there, on both sides of that fence.
No expression of solidarity, written or verbal, can ever compensate for the absolute loneliness felt as you are pushed strapped to a sliding tray inside a big noisy machine that will provide your doctor with an echo picture of your insides before the operation.
No words can outdo the absolute feeling of solitude as you are slid in on a huge tray inside a massive electronic commode. You are set and introduced into what seems a chest of drawers for the duration of the scan, however long it takes. You are alone with all your fears, your thoughts, the good, the bad and the ugly ones. No one else is there with you. There is no holding hands or soothing words. Your only point of contact with the world is the low monotone humming of the beast, feeling its pulsating sounds as if a giant clock mechanism had gone insane as they reverberate inside your innards. 
A few days later you will enter the operating theatre (always drama, never comedy) so that whatever is eating at you will be excised from your system and it almost always takes place as you are peacefully sleeping in a dreamless land.
Once you come out of hospital and all seems to have gone well you go home to convalesce. There you lie in your bed and read, or on your sofa, to watch television or to sleep during long afternoons populated by visions of heaven or hell, depending of the mood you are in or on the films you are watching.
For those of us who have transited the best part of our lives as photographers sometimes the only release is to be found in taking a picture of ourselves as we evolve from sick to well or from sad to less sad, or simply there, that day, and nothing else.
This one is a good example of the latter. Some people have told me it is extreme. I beg to differ. To me it is nothing more or nothing less than a portrait of a man who is waiting out the days before going back to the blessed routine that will rescue him from the doldrums of recovery.
And, thanks for asking, all things are going well so far and I am back at work. Perhaps there should be at least a reason to smile from this day onwards.

By Jack Peilow, ten years had passed since...

This shot was part of a series that young Jack did at the time and was entirely related to beards.  Jack went around town asking men to pose...